Saturday, December 31, 2005

Front Page Magazine's Top Stories of '05, David Horowitz's commentary web site, has published two Top Ten lists: the Most Overreported Stories and the Most Underreported Stories of the year. Here are the two lists.

Top Ten Overreported Stories of 2005

10. The Passion of Mary Mapes
9. Tom DeLay's Indictment
8. Jimmy Carter’s Opinion (On Anything)
7. John Roberts’ Federalist Society Membership
6. Jane Fonda’s “Apology”
5. Koran Desecration and “Torture”
4. Wiretapping Terrorists
3. Two Words: Cindy Sheehan
2. Bush’s “Negligence” during Hurricane Katrina
1. The Libby Indictment

Top Ten Underreported Stories of 2005

10. The Economy
9. Bush Gets it on the Border (Sort Of)
8. Academic Freedom on the March
7. Hurricanes Don’t Discriminate by Race
6. Prominent Leftists’ Utter Hypocrisy
5. Able Danger
4. Muslim Rape Spree
3. The Left Throws in the Towel in Iraq
2. The CIA’s War on Bush
1. Shhh…We’re Winning in Iraq

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Looking back -- fine commentary

A terrific commentary about how Europeans view Americans, written over a year ago. Something triggered my memory of this lately and I thought I'd dig it up to show you. A sample:
The Secret Weapon of George W. Bush is the nature of a guy who can laugh at himself and knows that his wife is really the better part of himself. The Secret Weapon of George W. Bush is a guy who knows himself well enough to know what's right and wrong without having to take a poll. The Secret Weapon of George W. Bush is the common sense to know that Terrorism is something to be ended, not tolerated as a nuisance.

In last Friday's debate, at the end of the debate the audience of 'undecided' voters , voted clearly their intent by walking to George W. Bush and his lovely wife Laura and waited to have their picture taken. The President and his wife were mobbed, while the other candidate was largely by himself.

The audience of the people of Missouri, simply felt they could walk up to have their hats and t-shirts signed and their hands shook by a guy named George.

Who just happened to be – The President of the United States.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The President has the power, folks

From, this piece by Michael Barone of U. S. News & World Report. In it he supports the President's power and authority to use warrantless wiretaps. Put aside the politics and observe:
...federal courts have ruled that the Fourth Amendment's bar of "unreasonable" searches and seizures limits the president's power to intercept communications without obtaining a warrant. But that doesn't apply to foreign intercepts, as the Supreme Court made clear in a 1972 case, writing, "The instant case requires no judgment on the scope of the president's surveillance power with respect to the activities of foreign powers, within or without this country." The federal courts of appeals for the 5th, 3rd, 9th and 4th Circuits, in cases decided in 1970, 1974, 1977 and 1980, took the same view. In 2002, the special federal court superintending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act wrote, "The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the president's constitutional power."

Update – From Justice Byron White's concurrence in the decision of Katz v. United States:
"Wiretapping to protect the security of the Nation has been authorized by successive Presidents. The present Administration would apparently save national security cases from restrictions against wiretapping. We should not require the warrant procedure and the magistrate's judgment if the President of the United States or his chief legal officer, the Attorney General, has considered the requirements of national security and authorized electronic surveillance as reasonable."

Thanks to William Hindman for this find.

Our future is in Iraq

Robert Kaplan occasionally gets published in the LA Times. When he does it's definitely worth your time reading. His latest, a Christmas Eve column, maintains that our future political leaders are right now military officers in Iraq:
If you want to meet the future political leaders of the United States, go to Iraq. I am not referring to the generals, or even the colonels. I mean the junior officers and enlistees in their 20s and 30s. In the decades ahead, they will represent something uncommon in U.S. military history: war veterans with practical experience in democratic governance, learned under the most challenging of conditions. ...

They are not imperialists, if by that we mean that they would support unilaterally invading a country again with a large number of troops. But they are absolutely committed to U.S. success in Iraq, no matter the cost to themselves. And as they trickle out of the service in coming years and rise to prominence in civilian life, the ability of the home front in these difficult days not to pity them, but to sustain them in their mission, could have enormous consequences for the future of American politics.

Well-written and illuminating. Give it a read.

The Best Media Quotes of the Year

Brent Bozell's Media Research Center has a rip-snorting collection of the year's most egregious examples of media bias (I'll let you guess in which direction the bias goes). Here's a choice one. It's the winner of the "Politics of Meaninglessness Award for the Silliest Analysis":
"It’s been 11 days since two African-American teenagers were killed, electrocuted during a police chase, which prompted all of this."

— Anchor Carol Lin after a Nov. 6 CNN Sunday Night story about riots in France. The two teenagers were not Americans, but French citizens of Tunisian heritage.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

I love stories like this XXXIII

Reading a Christmas story featuring Santa Claus should be a pretty low-impact assignment for a substitute 1st grade teacher, right? Not in Lickdale, Pennsylvania, it isn't, where Theresa Farrisi made the decision to tell the brutal truth:
Farrisi doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, and she doesn’t think anyone else should, either. She made her feelings clear to the classroom full of 6- and 7-year-olds, some of whom went home crying.

“The teacher stopped reading and told us no one comes down the chimney,” Jamey said, curling into a ball on the couch, bracing her chin on her knees, her voice shrinking away like melting ice cream. “She said our parents buy the presents, not Santa.”

Of course, there's more. You can always rely on the school administrators to come up with some choice bureaucratese in situations like this:
Northern Lebanon School District Superintendent Don L. Bell...said he was aware that several parents have expressed concerns about the incident. He also noted that the handling of Santa Claus isn’t covered in the school code. “We do not have a Santa Claus policy,” he said.

Merry Christmas from your self-righteous teacher, you misguided and misinformed kids!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Recent commentary: The NYT wiretapping story

Should the New York Times have revealed the president's wiretap methods?

(published 26-Dec-2005, Appleton Post-Crescent)

Sure is a convenient plug for New York Times reporter James Risen’s book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.” They sat on it for 14 months and now, just before the book release, the story comes out. Curiosly the Times did NOT run it before last year’s Presidential election. Kind of puts a different spin on liberal bias in the media. But should they have revealed it? I'm more interested in the larger question “Should our government be doing this sort of thing?” Or, “Will whoever’s the President during the next spectacular terrorist attack on American soil be lynched or not?” While you ponder that one, remember what Dostoevsky said: “Man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that great gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born.”

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A libertarian Christmas

These two items come from the latest Advocates for Self-Government newsletter, The Liberator Online. The Advocates are the folks with the famous World's Smallest Political Quiz.

Will the Feds Bust Santa Claus?
by George Getz

When Santa Claus comes to town this week, he'd better watch out -- because the federal government may be making a list of his crimes (and checking it twice), the Libertarian Party warned today.

"Hark the federal agents sing, Santa is guilty of nearly everything," said Libertarian Party press secretary George Getz. "The feds know when Santa's been bad or good -- and he's been bad, for goodness sakes."

Does Santa belong in the slammer? Instead of stuffing stockings, should he be making license plates?

Yes, said Getz, if he's held to the same standards as a typical American. For example:

* Every December 25, the illegal immigrant known as Santa Claus crosses the border into the United States without a passport. He carries concealed contraband, which he sneaks into the country in order to avoid inspection by the U.S. Customs Service. And just what's in all those brightly colored packages tied up with ribbons, anyway? The Drug Czar and Homeland Security want to know.

* Look at how this international fugitive gets around: Santa flies in a custom-built sleigh that hasn't been approved by the FAA. He never files a flight plan. He has no pilot's license. In the dark of night, he rides the skies with just a tiny bioluminescent red light to guide him -- a clear violation of traffic safety regulations.

* Pulling Santa's sleigh: Eight tiny reindeer, a federally protected species being put to hard labor. None of these reindeer have their required shots, and Santa's never bothered to get these genetically- engineered animals registered and licensed. It's no wonder: He keeps them penned outside his workplace in a clear violation of zoning laws.

* But Crooked Claus the Conniving Capitalist harms more than just animals -- he's hurting hard-working American laborers, too. Isn't Santa's Workshop really Santa's Sweatshop, where his non-union employees don't make minimum wage and get no holiday pay? Add the fact that OSHA has never inspected the place, and you have a Third-World elf-exploitation operation that only Kathy Lee Gifford could love.

* No wonder Santa is able to maintain his monopoly over the toy distribution industry: He's cornered the Christmas gift market. Santa dares to give away his products for free in a sinister attempt to crush all competition -- just like Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Antitrust Lawsuit Memo to the feds: Is Santa Claus the Bill Gates of Christmas?

The bottom line, said Getz: "It might be tough sledding for Jolly St. Nick this Christmas if the government decides to prosecute him.

"We're just surprised it hasn't already happened. After all, Santa Claus is everything that politicians aren't: He's popular, reliable, and gives us something for nothing every December 25th -- instead of taking our money every April 15th."


A Liberty Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the land
Libertarians dreamed of the ideals of
Rothbard, Hayek and Rand.

Enchanted by this glorious vision of liberty,
Many yearned for better ways to help their neighbors see
The great benefits that would come if they'd only embrace
A philosophy of freedom for all, whatever country or race.

At our home the stockings and decorations were up,
We'd left Santa some cookies and some milk in a cup.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of Liberty danced in their heads.

I in my Advocates T-shirt, and Mom in her Self-Governor's Cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When outside the window there arose such a clatter
That I leapt from my bed to see what was the matter!

There through the window I saw an amazing sight
That any other time of year would have given me a fright!
A sleigh pulled by reindeer flashing through the sky so quick,
And led by no less than -- Jolly Old St. Nick!

As he roared through the air, heading straight for my abode,
I saw the sled was groaning with a tremendous load
Of packages, treasures, treats and toys --
Gifts for all good men, women, girls and boys!

More rapid than a jet, right toward me they came!
And I heard Old St. Nick call each reindeer by name:
"Now Tolerance! Now Free Enterprise! Now Liberty!
Onward Peace, and Free Speech, and Prosperity!"

He kept calling their names in that manner, and 'twas thus
I realized with a start --"Hey, Santa's one of Us!"

I had always admired this very special man,
Who flew 'round the world without posting an FAA flight plan,
Who crossed national borders with impunity each year,
And never registered his team with the U.S. Department of Reindeer.
Who laughed at licenses and permits and just made his own route,
And ran a safe, clean, happy workshop far from OSHA's obnoxious snout.
Who lived independent and government-free at the icy North Pole,
Far away from taxes, regulations and the dole.

So I tiptoed downstairs to peep into the den,
And try and steal a sight of that jolly old gentleman
Who had brought such joy to millions in so many lands.
Oh, to see him in action, alive, first-hand!

I heard the sleigh touch lightly down upon the roof,
Strange noises from my chimney came... then -- POOF!
There was Santa standing boldly beside our Christmas tree,
Bigger than life in red and white -- an awesome sight to see!

He took a bite of our cookies and said, "Hmmmm -- not bad!"
Then wrote a quick note of thanks to our youngest lad.
Then he reached down into the bulging bag at his side,
And talked aloud as he brought out what was stuffed inside:

"Here's a new computer for Johnny, and it's all set
To take him to the Advocates' Web page on the Internet!
While there he can also subscribe, for free,
To the Liberator Online, the Advocates' email bi-weekly!

"Sally wants to reach libertarians in her home town,
So I've brought her the best outreach tool around!
Operation Politically Homeless (OPH) will do the trick --
She'll find hundreds of new libertarians!" chuckled jolly old St. Nick.

Then he pulled out a vast supply of pocket-sized cards
And I could guess what they were, without trying too hard.
"Here's a few thousand World's Smallest Political Quizzes, too!
That should last them for at least a month or two!

"This family wants to communicate the ideas of freedom clearly,
So here are two fine tape sets which they will treasure dearly:
The Communication Power Pack and The Essence of Political Persuasion
Will make them Master Communicators, no matter what the occasion!"

From his bag he brought forth still more great surprises --
Libertarian T-shirts in all different sizes,
All festooned with neat slogans. Then there were books galore --
By Browne, Bergland, Cloud, Ruwart and so many more!

By now our living room seemed filled to overflowing,
But still Santa kept on going and going.
He scattered audio tapes by the dozen in every empty spot.
"There are so many great Advocates tapes -- they'll like all these a lot!

He was bringing out still more goodies, but I could stand it no more
So I stepped out from hiding and stood by the door.
He smiled at me and winked, and I knew instantly
He'd known I had been there throughout his gift-giving spree.

"I just wanted to thank you --" I began to say.
But he held up his hand and smiled in his jolly way.
"There's no need for thanks! It's a great pleasure to me
To give gifts to people who care so much about liberty!

"The Advocates has made it easy for me and my elves --
In fact, we hardly have any work to do ourselves!
For people who want to see our world freed,
The Advocates has just the products, tools, and services we need.

"If you want to thank me, the best thing you can do
Is to support the Advocates -- and put these great tools to work for you.
Oh, there's one thing more I want to leave. Here --
Keep this Libertarian Communicator magazine handy, so you can order
throughout the year!"

I wanted to say more, but he put his finger to his nose,
Then -- POOF! Straight up through my chimney he rose!
I went to my window, and saw the sleigh rise into the sky,
And as they faded away, I heard Santa cry:

"On, Free Speech! On, Tolerance! On, Liberty!
Our world is yearning to be set free!
One day soon all will see freedom's bright shining light --
Merry Christmas to all! And to all, a Good Night!"


If you'd like to see this in formatted form -- including links to the products Santa mentions -- click here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I love stories like this XXXII

Hello! Mom and Dad! I'm calling from the police station. Now don't get all upset! I just took some of those cool fake $20 bills you made last night to school today. I must've used one by accident to pay for're not mad, are you? So, are you gonna come get me? And can Billy come over and play?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I love stories like this XXXI

You can't make this stuff up! 15-year-old boy shoots his father and then burns the house down because he was afraid dad would be upset with his grades.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

ADD then and now

Jerry Pournelle had this to say about the use of drugs to, well, drug unruly boys: call attention to the fact that we are using drugs when that may not be the right way to go. It may be the ONLY way with some children, but boys must learn self-discipline, and they do not learn it by being kept "calm" with drugs. This seems self-evident to me. And of course there are incentives for the drug companies to push profitable drugs, and for teachers already faced with discipline problems to turn to recommending drugs as a way out of the hard work that teaching self-control to unruly boys, and particularly to bright unruly boys always is. If drugs had been available when I was a teen I do not believe the Christian Brothers who were responsible for my high school education would have turned to them; but I know that the principal of Capleville Consolidated where I went to grade and middle school after we left Memphis and St. Anne's, would have greeted a way to drug me to calmness with shrieks of joy. Fortunately that alternative wasn't available to her, and a willow switch and then a wooden paddle were the instruments she had the legal authority to apply. Those worked: I learned to control myself in order to avoid pain. It is an ancient learning mechanism designed by Nature (Intelligent or not) and perfected over tens of thousands of years. Of course we all know better now.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I love stories like this XXVIII revisited

Another hidden camera in a boys' john? Yep! This time it was found at Wichita East High School:
An East High freshman faces expulsion for something the district says never should have happened. Monday Charles Rogers discovered a camera in the foyer of the boy’s bathroom. "The camera there period surprised me. It was a little spy camera, I didn't think anything like that was in the bathroom. I didn't think it was the schools, I thought it was a perverted janitor," Charles said.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I love stories like this XXX

You've heard the expression, "Anything goes?" Here are some of the lyrics to the Cole Porter song from the musical of the same name:
In olden days a glimpse of stockings
Was looked on as something shocking.
Now heaven knows
Anything goes.

There aren't any lyrics, as such, to the modern version of "anything goes." And a glimpse of stockings? Well, read this if you dare.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An Aussie gets it right

A clear view of the Iraq war and the political stakes in the U.S. as seen by a professor in Sydney:
You would think the moral of the story would be clearer, i.e. don’t cut and run again. In other words -- having gone into Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 – don’t leave as soon as the American interest, narrowly defined, has been satisfied. The Taliban is out and there are no al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Saddam is down and there are no WMDs in Iraq. By some measures, this is all that matters to the American interest. If, however, we are to learn from our recent history in the region, it is imperative that we stay in Afghanistan and Iraq and see them through to democratization, the rule of law, responsible governance, and popular empowerment. Even when our direct, short-term interests are no longer at stake, it’s clear that our long term interests matter too.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Does this seem like 'news' to you?

The Drudge Report headline reads Report: California Unprepared for Tsunami... Does anyone else go, "Well, duh!" at this amazing revelation?
Tsunami waves generated by a large offshore earthquake would threaten at least 1 million coastal residents in California and inundate the nation's largest port complex, according to a new report. The bleak study being released Monday found gaps in the state's readiness to handle a tsunami, including flaws in the existing warning system, lack of evacuation plans by coastal communities, and building codes that don't take into account tsunami-strength surges. In addition, many residents are unaware of the potential danger of tsunami waves and wouldn't know how to respond, the report said.

The next story we'll see will be about the state of unpreparedness of those hapless southern Californians regarding mudslides, forest fires, droughts, heavy rain, and space alien invasions. Of course there'll be the obligatory TV mini-series about a tsunami that wipes out Catalina Island and Redondo Beach.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

How about Lieberman-Feingold in '08?

A couple of Senate mavericks: Wisconsin's Feingold was the only Senator to vote against the original Patriot Act. Connecticut's Lieberman has just thrown the Democrat party leaders for a loop with his support of the Iraq war:
In the last few days, the senator has riled Democratic activists and politicians here and in his home state with his vigorous defense of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war at a time some Democrats are pressuring the administration to begin a withdrawal.

Mr. Lieberman particularly infuriated his colleagues when he pointed out at a conference here that President Bush would be commander in chief for three more years and said that "it's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that."

A couple of mavericks in the White House? It could happen!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I love stories like this XXIX

As David George said in his excellent The top 10 reasons public schooling is better than home-schooling: "3) How can children learn to defend themselves unless they have to fight off bullies on a daily basis?" Hurricane Katrina evacuees have been attending high school in Houston for a while now, and things are coming to a boil:
A brawl that began in the Westbury High School cafeteria Wednesday and spilled outdoors capped weeks of growing tension between Houston students and Hurricane Katrina evacuees and resulted in the arrest of 27 students.

The fight Wednesday was sparked, students said, when a girl made a gang sign in or near the cafeteria and a boy loudly cursed New Orleans. It quickly spread to other areas of campus and then outdoors.

Graffiti scrawled on the door of a girls restroom seems to mark the built-up tensions. On the door's center, "New Orleans Takin' Over," is crossed out. Nearby, "H-town forever!" is scrawled. The phrase "Go home" is answered with a crude "no." Profanities litter the door.

Including the New Orleans students, Westbury High School has nearly 2500 kids. My town of little ol' Neenah has a high school with over 2400 kids. That's about 10% of the population in one building three city blocks long.

It got me to thinking about the nature of bureaucracy. A couple of very nice caricatures of bureaucracies and bureaucrats are presented in the movies "Brazil" and "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

School bureaucracies are different than your typical garden-variety bureaucracy because schools truss up ... er ... cage ... um ... process ... ah ... nurture, that's it! Schools nurture our children. But there's still that fiddlin' bureaucracy that is founded on the principles of well-defined turf, finely-defined division of labor, and forms, forms, forms.

Those darned fist-fights in the cafeteria just don't fit the bureaucratic profile and make the bureaucrats look bad. They try their best:
"I feel certain that the administration is going to look into this," [Houston Independent School District Board President Dianne Johnson] said. "We're certainly going to take whatever steps it takes to make sure that students are safe when they attend school."

I think that Neenah High School should be busted up into, say, 10 or 20 mini-schools in that humongous building: specialty schools, tech-ed schools, liberal arts schools, etc. Of course, they'll still be publicly-funded compulsory-attendance zoos, but they'll at least be smaller zoos.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

More on illegal immigration: a wall and bounties

Jerry Pournelle's site has an exchange between a letter writer and Jerry himself; suggestions that neither of them think will be tried. First a wall:
Put up a wall / fence / SOMETHING at our southern border. Patrol it, and give the patrols some teeth.

Then offer a bounty:
If we were to offer $2,500 to $5,000 a head for illegal immigrants delivered to the Border Patrol by bounty hunters, no questions asked – we don't mind if they turn in each other – with a very stiff hard labor sentence in a chain gang for repeat offenders, it would cost at most a couple of billion dollars a year, and the more it cost the more successful it would be.

There's more at the site. Are these things worth trying?

Friday, December 02, 2005

I love stories like this XXVIII

Was this vandalism or was it a proper reaction by a child whose privacy was being invaded?
A Jasper County mother says her 8th grade son found a video camera taping in the school bathroom this week. But now, he is the one in trouble. Cindy Champion says her son, Mac Bedor, and a few of his friends took the camera out of the ceiling because they felt it violated their privacy.

[H]igh school principal, Howard Fore, put the camera catch students vandalizing.

County District Attorney, Howard Simms...says cameras in public school bathrooms are legal because schools have more leeway on privacy issues.

I suppose locker rooms are next...

Recent commentary: How about those illegal immigrants?

How should the nation handle illegal immigration?

(published 5-Dec-2005, Appleton Post-Crescent)

Ask the people that hire Central Americans to do yard work. You can't hire an American for even twice as much money who will do even half as much work even half as well. So, an illegal is worth 8 times as much as an American, at least when it comes to yard work. But what to do about them? It was different when Ellis Island was the main entry point. Now they come by boat from Cuba and Haiti, over the Rio Grande from Mexico, and over Niagra Falls from Canada. No, wait! There aren't any illegal immigrants from Canada! Maybe if we shipped all of the illegals to Canada they'd stay there since, clearly, Canada is a very nice place. OK, here’s what to do. All funding for bi-lingual education should be cut off, English declared the official language, and all government business should be conducted in English.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

For those of you really worried

Anthro-centric global warming: is it the major cause of the gradual rise in temperatures we've been experiencing or isn't it? I think not. The major cause of the rise is the sun.

People in general don't know about the temperature variations the earth has experienced in the past. For example, did you know that the Vikings established dairy farms in Greenland a thousand years ago or so? We can still see them ... under the ice.

Did you know that the Thames River in London and the Zuyder Zee in Holland used to freeze over in the period known as the "Little Ice Age" during the 17th-19th centuries. The Hudson River in New York used to freeze solid in the 18th century. Good thing, too, or Washington would have had a hell of a time getting his cannons across the river during the Revolutionary War.

If you think that anthro-centric global warming has increased the number and ferocity of hurricanes (as Robert Kennedy, Jr., does) I think you can put your mind at rest. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a report denying that possibility:
NOAA research shows that the tropical multi-decadal signal is causing the increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995, and is not related to greenhouse warming.

So cease your ceaseless hand-wringing!

The military propaganda in Iraqi newspapers

I want us to win, unequivocally. Sure, I have second thoughts about why we marched in there in the first place, but make no mistake, I want us to win.

We have been "revealed" to the penetrating gaze of the rest of the world to be as venal, mean, unfair, and crass as any other invading power in history. Nazi Germany had nothing on us in terms of brutality, We're right up there with Stalinist Russia in terms of the murder machine. We're Machiavellian, heartless, morally degraded, rapacious, and cruel.

Tough. I don't care two figs for our "image" over there. I care that we win. If the propaganda doesn't have the desired effect, well then I say we try something else to help us win.

So our slip is showing, so what? So a few more anti-Americans get elected to national office as a result, so what? Are we there to win or not?

I don't even care if our soldiers inject steroids to improve their war-like demeanor. Whaddaya think o' that?

What do I mean by "win?" I mean "utterly destroy the enemy and so demoralize our potential enemies that they're not tempted to poke the snake to see what happens." Don't tread on me!

The finer nuances of how the military should conduct its focus groups or maintain its media image or prosecute its civilian outreach programs are lost on me. Are they winning? is what I care about.